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[bal-uh-ster] /ˈbæl ə stər/
Architecture. any of a number of closely spaced supports for a railing.
balusters, a balustrade.
any of various symmetrical supports, as furniture legs or spindles, tending to swell toward the bottom or top.
1595-1605; < French, Middle French balustre < Italian balaustro pillar shaped like the calyx of the pomegranate flower, ultimately < Latin balaustium < Greek balaústion pomegranate flower
Related forms
balustered, adjective
Can be confused
baluster, balustrade, banister. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for balusters
  • The wide, curving staircase with scrolling iron balusters and railings.
  • Three groups of nine one-half inch wide, twenty-four inch tall steel balusters run vertically.
  • If balusters are used, there shall be a minimum of one per tread.
  • The interior features a narrow, open string staircase with simple round balusters and newel posts.
  • The tetrastyle porticos have stone balustrades with crossed balusters.
  • The staircase which winds up before the chimney in the entry has its original newel post and turned oaken balusters.
  • The step ends have handsome scrolled fretwork, and the balusters are turned.
  • Of note inside are the flat, s-shaped balusters of the stair.
  • The open-string stair has square balusters, scroll-sawn brackets, and a paneled spandrel and is broken by a landing.
  • Many have ornate balusters juxtaposed against simple squared wood posts.
British Dictionary definitions for balusters


any of a set of posts supporting a rail or coping
(of a shape) swelling at the base and rising in a concave curve to a narrow stem or neck: a baluster goblet stem
Word Origin
C17: from French balustre, from Italian balaustro pillar resembling a pomegranate flower, ultimately from Greek balaustion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for balusters



"support for a railing," c.1600, from French balustre, from Italian balaustro "pillar," from balausta "flower of the wild pomegranate," from Greek balaustion (perhaps of Semitic origin, cf. Aramaic balatz "flower of the wild pomegranate"). Staircase uprights had lyre-like double curves, like the calyx tube of the pomegranate flower.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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